Wow, difficult situation for you. Not until your husband wants to do something about it there really isn't much you can do or enforce unless you are supported by your husband. When our son was 18 yr olds and still living at home and working he paid us $200 a month for rent. It taught him responsibility. We didn't need the money, but it was a way for him to be responsible. Then we saved the money and when he moved out we gave it to him as a gift.
Good luck with your situation.
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12 1/3/13 6:17 P
Thank you for this perspective-an intelligent and insightful one. I understand if external circumstances force you to move back in with Mom and Dad, but one should respect the rules of another's house, especially if that individual is paying the bills and providing a rent-free place to stay! You are right about the son's living situation-why move out, he has the life! I do sympathize with both children on one point-change is scary, and having to step out on your own can be quite difficult, especially if you were not given much guidance or boundaries growing up. However, allowing these children to be dependents still is detrimental to all involved. There are definitely major control issues, power struggles between my husband and his son-that is how a dog was allowed into the house. I also have sympathy for the son because this animal really is his only ally-he has difficulty in social situations, and the relationship with both of his parents is non-existent or full of tension. In short, I don't know if he has any real friends, except those he contacts online. I cannot believe you are 31 and he is 30, and there is a world of difference between the two of you-or rather, I can believe it given your upbringing and mentality and his. I don't know if it is honestly a case of developmental delay due to enabling one to remain a child, or there are some neurobiological issues.
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12 1/3/13 5:57 P
Thank you all for the advice and support-I do agree I have to accept the situation if my husband does not change his dynamic/behavior with his children and I remain married to him-I do think there is a guilt trip from both children because of the divorce and the issues it created, but at some point children need to grow up, and it becomes manipulation on their part. I do think he is trying to assauge his guilt over the divorce by paying his daughter's car payments and allowing his son to do as he pleases, and it is only harming them at this point, not helping them. This may sound like an insensitive post, but everyone has suffered difficulties in life, and I know many children of divorcees who are living successful lives.
That's a tough one....I do agree with the previous posters that your husband must want things to be different before any changes can be instituted. Do you think there's some "guilt tripping" going on over the divorce/family breakup? He may be trying to smooth things over or make himself feel better by making the payments and letting the son run wild.
Do you think he might agree to some counseling? Most counselors will tell you that helping a grown child short-term is just fine, but you should NOT be doing something for them that they can or should be doing for themselves for an extended period. It becomes ENABLING instead of assisting at that point.
I agree with you, PP, on that. That's why it's crucial to get the husband on board, because ultimately, unless he does, nothing is likely to change. As a stepmother, she doesn't have much control over his kids, and even though she'd have an element of control over the house, if she goes into trying to change things alone, she'll just be deemed the villian, if the husband doesn't back her up. That's the downside of being a step parent. Somehow a post saying "You can't do anything because you didn't give birth to them" seemed unhelpful for me, so I gave whatever suggestions I could. Whether they would even work for their household would be up to them. Ironically, however, my own stepmother has much more control over my father's finances and how they both spend that money than he does, and he's the one that works. So I guess it also depends on the situation. :)
First off, I am SO sorry you are having to deal with this situation. I cannot imagine the daily grievance of feeling like your own home has been taken over by other adults. I truly feel for you and the frustration you must have.
I think your reasoning is on the right track. I think they’ve been raised (and continue to be treated) with no real guidance or boundaries, and any time issues have come up, excuses were made on their behalf (i.e. DSD is too busy with community college to pay her own rent/bills, and DSS is depressed.) I think they’ve been coddled so much, they now rely on it, and have never learned how to make things work on their own. Granted, I’m a mother, and I can see the argument that you want to do anything and everything for your child. It’s a difficult place to be, because as a parent, you’re programmed to want to take care of your children. But on the other hand, at what point does catering to their every need end up damaging their ability to figure things out on their own?
I’m 31 years old myself. I moved out when I was 18 years old, for college, for which I was expected to pay for on my own. My parents never made any connotation they would pay and haven’t ever paid my rent or bills. When I did get laid off, from my first job out of college, I did move back home (as they are my parents, and don’t want me to be homeless), but it was back to “their house, their rules”, so I quickly figured out that I wanted to find another job ASAP, even though I do love spending time with them. I guess I just like my personal freedoms. :) I was raised to know you don’t accept someone else’s money without there being a catch, even if it’s letting the financer have an element of control over your life.
My first question, when reading your post, is how the heck did stepson come home with a dog in the first place? I rent a home, currently, and even I would have to get permission from my landlord to bring home a pet. Not to mention, I'm financially responsible if the pet destroys the house. Ultimately, nothing is going to change about the situation unless someone changes their behavior. If you don’t see that being the grown children anytime soon, it’s going to have to be you and your husband. Somehow you have to get him on board. They are his children, and it is crucial that he be on board. Otherwise, you'll just end up the "wicked stepmother". You can still love and protect your children and set ground rules. Without them in place, they are walking all over you. If I were in that situation, my advice would be:
1) Set a timeline of weaning step daughter off of the $450 a month. Helping her out is paying her car payments while she gets on her feet. You’re not entitled, as parent and stepparent, to pay it for life. Trust me, she’ll never figure this expense into her budget until she HAS to. I’m not saying, bring it up as “Oh yeah, come next Tuesday, we’re not paying your bills anymore.” Something more of a “You know, we really want to help you out and we know you’re trying hard to get your degree, but times are really tough right now, and we can’t continue to pay your auto payment much longer. We’ll cover you until x date (6 months, 12 months, etc.), but then you’ll have to take it over.” Be constructive, with a positive loving message first, and then give her a date where she’ll have enough time to figure things out, while still holding firm that there’s an end in sight. Then, when that date comes, hold to it. If she loses her car because she doesn’t pay it, it might be the only way she’ll ever learn financial responsibility. Sometimes you just have to let people make their own mistakes.
2) With stepson, if he’s going to live in your home, I’d say employ a “my house, my rules” tactic. He’s got the life now. No bills. No rent. No need to really HAVE to work. Free pet sitting. Free internet. Little to no rules. Personal Freedom!! Why should he ever move out? He’s got a sweet deal right where he is now! I’d have to literally win the lottery to get that same deal. Take your house back! Set up “house rules”, curfews, utility bill sharing, rent sharing, chores, strict rules on pet caring (and perhaps no MORE pets allowed), maybe some pet rent (if he isn’t caring for the pet, you should at least get paid for pet sitting). He's an adult now, and every adult in the household needs to pull their fair share, whether financially, or through chores around the house. Like stepdaughter, set a date with enough notice when things are planned to change, so he has time to "adjust" and make plans to make changes to go along.
Ultimately, change is hard for people, not to mention SCARY, so many times, change will NEVER happen until there is a need that requires it. If people are happy with the status quo, why do anything differently? And sometimes, even if people aren’t necessary happy with the status quo (i.e. you and your husband), sometimes it seems so much easier to just “go with it” than to stand up for yourselves.
You need to get your husband on board. He seems like he just doesn’t know what to do. I’m sure he’s in a difficult position, as parents end up in, feeling torn between being your child’s parent and their friend. But perhaps if you come to him with a plan, with some suggestions, it could create a place to start talking. Maybe he just doesn’t know where to start and is overwhelmed by the thought of change. Laying out a potential plan, and talking about it and mutually agreeing on it, could make the change seem a lot less scary to your husband. At the same time, speak to him about this constructively. Always start every suggestion with something good, like “I know we both love them very much…”, and little sucking up, “…and I’ve always admired that you’re the father that stands by his children…”, and slip in your motive, “…but we really need to make some changes together, because I just don’t feel we’re 100% happy with how things are with the children right now.” Relate to his fears, “…I know that change is very difficult”, and then hit him with the logic, “…but that our enabling of their behavior is ending up doing more harm than good. If they aren’t ever given the opportunity to learn, they won’t know what to do when it really counts.” Constructive is key though, as it at least helps lessen the chance the person will get defensive.
I wish you the best. I know you’re in a very difficult situation. Best wishes!
Edited by: ATTACCA at: 12/26/2012 (20:07)
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344 12/24/12 9:58 A
eeeek i could not imagine what your dealing with!
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147 12/17/12 10:05 A
Big hugs to you because it is hard if he can't give them a little tough love and have them step out into the world on their own!! My dad actually has this problem with my step-mom who have their 20something kids at home still and she refuses to make them pay rent or really have any chores and they are both of their children - so sometimes it doesn't even matter if they are yours or not!!
I will tell you that I have seen a few scenarios of this go bad where the spouse gave an ultimatium and one instance the "child" left on their own not knowing they were the source of the parents fighting but knowing their relationship was hurting and the other case the spouse ended up leaving - so just make sure you are prepaired if you go the ultimatium route that your really willing to do the worse case scenario you give!!
Until your husband wants to change, you have to live with how he treats his kids. Sorry. Sound like a horrible situation....
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12 12/15/12 11:57 A
I need advice. My husband has two children from a previous marriage, a daughter age 31, and a son age 30. His daughter is currently working full-time, as a manager of a salon, and is attending community college. She lives in an apartment paid for by her mother, and her father, my husband, pays her monthly car payments of $450. He has sent her money to make these car payments in the past,and finds out that she is consistently late in making the payments, or does not make them at all. We have no idea where the money goes, so he now insists on proof of payment from her. She gets angry when he confronts her about this issue and makes childish statements. His son is living at home with us, is basically a good person, but does not and has never paid rent. He works full-time in the summer, part-time in the winter as a server at a local restaurant. He has mentioned just this past summer that he wanted to move out to Colorado and find employment there. Now he brought home a lab/pitbull puppy and has made no further mention of moving out.He has no friends that we know of, spends most of his spare time in his room on the computer, and we are his social circle. He complains bout the fleas the dog has, and yet refuses to purchase Frontline or something like it to get rid of the fleas. He leaves stuff out all over the place, rarely washes his dishes, or does any other chores around the house. I think this may be due partly to ADHD/chronic depression. I feel as if the dog has taken over the house, and in some ways, so has his son. He complains of not having enough money to make it on his own, and yet won't look for another job when he is only working part-time. I do not think these children had any real guidance or boundaries while they were growing up, and I suspect their mother has mental health issues of her own. I also think there may have been abuse, not on the part of the parents, but on the part of a stepparent and babysitter. They are like scared little children who are afraid to make it on their own, with no real guidance, and they manipulate their parents. I do have sympathy for them on one hand, but on the other hand I am completely frustrated and fed up. When I approach my husband about this topic, he gets angry and irritable and says, "What do you want me to do? They're my kids. I don't know what to do." He won't confront them about their behaviour and allows them to keep doing what they are doing. I hate to sound self-centered, but this is negatively affecting me, and our relationship. I don't think I am off the mark in expecting them to take responsibility, despite their upbringing. Any opinions? Advice? I cannot talk to family or friends as it is too close for comfort.
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